Rashod Bateman might not be the most veteran or experienced wide receiver that the Baltimore Ravens, but he is the one with the highest pedigree, and is more than willing to take steps to take ownership of the team’s wide receiver group now, following the trade that send Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals.
A first-round pick a year ago, Bateman was injured at the start of his rookie season, but had moments of productivity when he returned, when the passing game was actually functional. Brown was the last wide receiver the Ravens took in the first round, in 2019; their other wide receiver drafted that year, Miles Boykin, is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s now a very young group, and an inexperienced one, so it’s not unreasonable that a younger player could step in and try to be that leader. But that’s what Bateman always intended to be, and he’s not waiting for the opportunity any longer, leading by example.
“I talk a lot, but hopefully I can show them by the way I work by being the first one here every single day, by working hard at practice, running routes, studying film, whatever it may look like”, he told reporters last week, via transcript from the team’s website. “That’s the role that I’m in. That’s the role that I’ve always wanted to be in, and I’m excited to take that role”.
It’s not necessarily a role that he expected to be available, because, unlike, say, quarterback Lamar Jackson, he had had no prior warning that the Ravens were engaging in talks to trade Brown, who requested the trade himself. It was as much news to him when the move was made on the first day of the draft as anybody else on the outside.
“Me and ‘Hollywood’ are close, we’re all close. Obviously, we didn’t know, we found out later”, he said about how the trade went down behind closed doors. “But, there’s no bad blood. ‘Hollywood’ is our brother; we still stay in contact with him. We potentially might even go down to his camp, that was something that we talked about, just because he’s our brother. This league is a business, and you have to handle things to handle things, so we still communicate and it’s all good”.
Interestingly enough, even after the trade in the first round, the Ravens failed to actually address the wide receiver position. It has been reported that they wanted to draft Calvin Austin III in the fourth round, but the Steelers beat them to the punch.
Behind Bateman, their other top wide receivers are Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Tylan Wallace, the latter of whom was drafted in the fourth round last year. They drafted six wide receivers in a three-year span between 2019-2021, and these are the four remaining.
General manager Eric DeCosta has acknowledged that the wide receiver position is the one that they are still looking to address, and given how the Ravens have conducted business over the years, we can expect that they will add some veteran to the mix at some point before or shortly after the start of training camp. I wouldn’t bet on Odell Beckham Jr., though.